Tear Gas, a Trump Rally, and Lady A | Daily Skimm | theSkimm
Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators shooting tear gas next to St. John's Episcopal Church outside of the White House on June 1, 2020.Getty Images

Tear Gas

The Story

The nation's top military officer has apologized for his role in a controversial photo-op.

Which one?

President Trump's, in front of St. John's Episcopal Church last week. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that accompanying the president to the church was wrong, and apologized for it. He said it had "created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics." Reminder: Peaceful protesters were tear gassed to clear the way for Trump's visit. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, along with religious leaders, condemned the move. And it's since sparked conversations about the use of tear gas on protesters.

Go on.

The '90s Chemical Weapons Convention banned the use of tear gas in warfare. But loopholes have allowed countries like the US to use it against its own people as a "riot control agent." And law enforcement has used it to (you guessed it) control crowds. But experts say it should only be used as a last resort, and that using it on peaceful protesters is excessive. And that its effects are harmful.

Explain.

Tear gas isn't a gas, it's actually a powder that's been transformed into an aerosol. Once it touches your skin and mixes with oils and sweat, it apparently dissolves into an acidic liquid. The CDC says it can cause a burning sensation in the eyes and the nose. And could trigger coughing, shortness of breath, and a feeling of choking. It also affects the respiratory system and could have serious effects on those with preexisting conditions. Some health experts worry its use (especially during a pandemic) could further the spread by inducing coughing and causing people to touch their eyes in response.

Yikes.

It's considered a "less lethal" weapon, meaning it's not supposed to be deadly but could still inflict serious injuries. However, in Ohio, officials are reportedly investigating whether the death of a 22-year-old woman was the result of police firing tear gas at a protest she participated in. And the gas itself isn't the only issue. The canisters that contain it can cause injuries as they are thrown into crowds of protesters. They could break bones, and leave burns if they are touched. At least one person has lost his eye because of it in the recent protests.

Is anything being done?

Americans have the constitutional right to peacefully assemble. But so far, there have been reports of its use at protests in several cities like Philadelphia, San Diego, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and like we mentioned above: DC. Recently, some cities have already taken initiative by temporarily suspending its use, including in Portland, Denver, and Seattle. And some lawmakers are looking to propose a bill to bar police from using tear gas.

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Even though tear gas has been banned during war, protesters across the US have fallen victim to its use. And its harmful effects have raised concerns that it could fuel the spread of COVID-19.

And Also...This

Who isn't subtle...

President Trump. Earlier this week, he announced his first in-person political rally since March. It's happening in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Juneteenth – and the time and place are attracting a wave of backlash. Juneteenth, which happens every year on June 19, commemorates the end of slavery. And Tulsa is the site of one of the worst massacres of black people in US history. In 1921, a white mob attacked the black neighborhood of Greenwood, also known as "Black Wall Street." As many as 300 black Americans were killed and hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed.

  • This was intentional: The White House called Juneteenth a "meaningful" day for the president. And said he wants to "share some of the progress" that's been made for the black community. But...

  • Not welcome: Many are angry over the president's decision. Especially in the wake of controversial comments on everything from protesters to George Floyd and the economy. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, reportedly called it "yet another slap in the face to black people."

What people are watching...

Breonna Taylor's case. Louisville police have released the incident report from the night of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor's death. Except there's a major problem: it's nearly blank. Taylor died in March after police shot her at least eight times following a no-knock search warrant at her apartment. But the report listed her injuries as "none" and cited no forced entry. And only included things like the date, location of the shooting, and the names of the officers involved – who haven't been fired but reassigned. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer ordered a review of the department and called the report "unacceptable." The dept reportedly says it's taking immediate steps to "correct" it. This comes as the Louisville Metro Council unanimously voted to pass "Breonna's Law" – a ban on no-knock search warrants. Fischer said he would sign it as soon as it hits his desk.

What's making a buzz in the tech world…

Microsoft. Yesterday, it said it won't allow US police departments to use its facial recognition technology, following similar moves by Amazon and IBM. The decision comes as people across the country protest against police brutality and systemic racism. And some have raised concerns about the government's surveillance of protesters. For years, AI researchers and activists have raised alarm bells, pointing to the tech's potential misuse among police officers and history of bias. Now, Microsoft's saying it won't allow law enforcement to use the tech until there's "a national law, grounded in human rights" regulating it.

Who's saying words matter...

Lady A.


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